Debian has released “Bookworm” and so has Mobian!

According to schedule and on time Debian has managed to put out the Bookworm release. Congratulations! In step with that release, Mobian is herewith officially releasing its first stable release, codenamed … tadaa … “Bookworm”!

What does this mean?

A lot has happened since the release of the Mobian community edition PinePhone. But ever since its inception, Mobian has been tracking the testing repository of Debian. The previous release - Bullseye - was just not deemed suitable for mobile devices yet.

Fortunately, a lot has happened since then, and we can proudly claim that Debian Bookworm is the first release that we deem to be mobile-friendly enough. It is used as the base for our stable Mobian release.

This means that, from now on, you will have the choice between sticking with the first ever stable release or switching over to the next development “branch”.

Which release is the right one for me?

If you stick with Bookworm you will be getting a stable system, not in the sense of bug-free, never-crashing software (does that even exist?), but as a fixed set of software components that are known to work well together and don’t rely on undefined behavior. The only updates you will receive will be targeted ones, fixing either a major bug or a security vulnerability, and will be thoroughly tested to minimize the risk of regression.

With Bookworm, you can depend on your device (to the extent permitted by the stability of the included software) without having to fear that an upgrade might alter its behavior in a negative way.

This approach has one downside, though: version numbers for Bookworm packages will be mostly frozen (except for aforementioned targeted updates) and you will not receive any update bringing new functionality to your applications.

New features will only be arriving in the testing repositories of both Debian and Mobian, as they convey the risk of introducing major bugs, and as such should be reserved to users with sufficient knowledge of their system’s internals and the ability to manually repair things that can (and will!) break over time.

So in the end, you have to pick your poison: stick with a dependable device with only targeted updates, or live fast on the edge of the new Debian testing (which will become Trixie) and die young accept the fact that updates can occasionally break your system pretty badly. We will not be making that decision for you.

How to stick to stable Mobian?

Unless you previously enabled the staging repo, chances are you already track Mobian Bookworm and don’t need to do anything. You should ensure /etc/apt/sources.list contains the following lines:

deb bookworm main non-free-firmware
deb bookworm-security main non-free-firmware


  • if your sources.list is lacking non-free-firmware but your device works as expected, you don’t need to add this component
  • if the entries contain non-free, please change those to non-free-firmware unless you actually want to install non-free packages other than firmware (in which case you probably should append non-free-firmware anyway)

Similarly, the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mobian.list file should have the following contents:

deb bookworm main non-free-firmware


  • non-free should be replaced with non-free-firmware in this file as well; both components are identical for now, but we plan to drop non-free during the Trixie development cycle, so switching early will ensure your system is ready for future major upgrades
  • if you don’t have a mobian.list file under /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ but extrepo_mobian.sources instead, ensure the Suites: line’s value is bookworm and Components: contain main and (optionally) non-free-firmware; alternatively, you can delete extrepo_mobian.sources and create mobian.list with the expected contents

We did our best to keep a clean upgrade path even for old Mobian installs. However, there’s no way we can address every possible (corner) case, and we expect some users (especially those with really old installs) will run into issues we didn’t foresee while upgrading to bookworm. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you start from a clean system by flashing the Bookworm image corresponding to your device (backing up and restoring all your important files in the process, of course). This will ensure you get rid of leftover obsolete tweaks and benefit from all the improvements we made over time.

What about bugfix and security updates?

You will notice that the Mobian repository has grown a new entry: bookworm-updates. This is intended to be the repository where all our stable updates land, including security fixes. The latter will however quickly migrate to the main bookworm repo (from a few hours to a few days, depending on the criticity of the vulnerability and potential side-effects of the proposed fix). “Normal” (i.e. bugfix-only) updates will migrate to bookworm for each new point release of Debian Bookworm.

We welcome users willing to test those updates (and report any regression they might cause) before they migrate, as this would help us maintain the stability of the overall distribution; those users should therefore add the following line to their mobian.list file:

deb bookworm-updates main non-free-firmware

Please be aware that doing so will expose you to issues/regressions caused by updated packages, though the risk will be far less important than users opting for the development repositories.

How to track the “new” testing (Trixie)?

If you have chosen the Red Pill, you should first ensure both your sources.list and mobian.list files are configured appropriately (see above section) and MUST be 100% sure your system is fully up-to-date (ideally from a freshly flashed Bookworm image).

You can then execute the following steps:

  • drop the bookworm-security line from sources.list and replace bookworm with trixie in the remaining line
  • replace bookworm with trixie in mobian.list (drop the bookworm-updates line if you previously added it)

Important: Be aware that in the weeks following a Debian stable release there is a huge influx of updated packages and big transitions to new versions, clearing the backlog that has been building up during the freeze period. We would advise people to not immediately switch over to the new Trixie/testing distribution. Wait for a few weeks/months until things have calmed down and switch over then, unless you want to live through every breakage that might ensue post-release.

Where are the downloads and installers for Mobian Bookworm?

As usual, images can be found here. Just select your device (family) and download the image.

For the PinePhone and the PinePhonePro installer images are available in addition to the regular live images.

Instructions for verifying and flashing the image can be found below.

Are there installation instructions?

Instructions verified to be working by a Mobian/Debian Developer can be found in the Debian wiki:

For other devices (or ones which haven’t been blessed by a Mobian/Debian Developer) please see the community wiki.

A peak behind the curtain

We (and the larger community) have been very busy in the last two years and we’re excited to ship (and maintain going forward) our first stable image!

Here are some of the highlights of this release:

  • Solid support for MMS, visual voicemail and other bits and pieces (thanks kop316!)
  • Kernel CI machinery which eases rebasing patches needed for our supported devices (thanks a-wai and undef!)
  • droid-juicer for extracting firmware from Android devices (thanks a-wai!)
  • GNOME core application all adaptive (modulo the cases where they aren’t) (thanks GNOME!)
  • phosh and related components have seen all sorts of improvements (thanks agx!)
  • More mature SIP support in Calls (thanks devrtz!)
  • sxmo/swmo made it into Debian (thanks jochensp!)
  • Plasma Mobile core packages also made it into Debian, although very few applications are available for now (thanks Marco!)
  • phog (the PHOne Greeter) can be used to switch the “desktop” environment on login (thanks a-wai!)

Of course there have been a lot more added features, fixed bugs and other improvements which are way too numerous to list. Have a look here for more details on what changed in Debian.

If you want to know more nitty gritty details how we prepared for bookworm, check out our Bookworm release TODO/checklist, as well as the activity on the Mobian and DebianOnMobile teams on Salsa.